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The best Chinese smartphones of 2019

The best Chinese smartphones of 2019

Chinese smartphones have emerged from a murky past of iPhone clones and shady software to become a new force in the global market. These phones tend to be a lot cheaper, even accounting for import costs, but often have at least equally good build quality and features. The number of great Chinese phones officially sold in the US is dwindling thanks to the Huawei ban, but we've put together a list of the very best of both the officially available and those you'll have to import.

 

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Importing Chinese smartphones

Why buy a Chinese smartphone? A question whose answer is now obvious given the success of Chinese brands on the market. Made in China devices are characterized by powerful hardware and low prices. Imported devices worthy of our recommendation will work without problems, but before buying, it is important to check the compatibility with the frequency bands of your mobile service provider.

You can buy Chinese smartphones online, at official brand sites (in the case of OnePlus) or on e-commerce sites like Amazon, for example. Buying the best-known Chinese devices is no longer a problem, but when it comes to relatively unknown brands in the US, they mostly need to be imported from far away.

Before importing a Chinese device, remember to check the reliability of the site from which you want to buy the smartphone, as well as the warranty details, customer support, and return policy in case of malfunctions. It's important to also consider relevant customs fees and shipping costs.

For those who have their hearts set on importing...Where there's a will, there's a way! Be sure to check our article on how to buy a smartphone from China for all the tips you need to make a smart purchase.

The best Chinese phones officially available in the US

OnePlus 7 Pro: always full-throttle

The OnePlus 7 Pro, the more expensive model presented together with OnePlus 7, has just arrived on the market ready to take on the big names in the industry. The design of the device has evolved and now recalls that of the most recent OPPO or Vivo (coincidentally) but with design elements that make it unique, such as the curved display and high refresh rate. The panel is a 6.67-inch AMOLED Samsung FullHD+, without a notch and capable of reaching 90Hz.

Let's move on to what's under the hood. The smartphone integrates a Snapdragon 855 processor supported by 6GB, 8GB or even 12GB of RAM and 128 / 256GB of internal memory. Running on the smartphone we find OxygenOS based on Android 9.0. Keeping the show going is the 4,000 mAh battery supported by Warp Charge. All at a starting price of $669.

AndroidPIT oneplus 7 pro colors
The blue color is really eye-catching. / © AndroidPIT

The best Chinese phones not officially available in the US

Huawei P30 Pro: top camera experience

With the P30 Pro, Huawei has launched a smartphone with a camera that is second to none. The camera, developed together with Leica, has not one, not two, but three on the rear, plus an auxiliary ToF sensor. Together with the AI units of the Hisilicon Kirin 980 and the 5x optical zoom (10x hybrid and 50x digital!), creative and exciting shots are possible in a way no other smartphone can offer.

The Chinese brand has done a great job, not only with regards to build quality and specs, but also in terms of software optimization, in this case characterized by Android 9.0 Pie and EMUI. The user experience offered is excellent: the smartphone reacts quickly to any task, and the 4,200 mAh battery guarantees two days of intense use. Made official in Europe for a price of 999 EUR, it is already possible to find online in the US for $888, and this price will likely continue to sink as Huawei is stuck in the middle of a trade clash between the US and China.

AndroidPIT huawei p30 pro back3
The color gradient will win you over. / © AndroidPIT

OPPO Reno 10x Zoom: unmistakable style

OPPO launched the new Reno smartphone series at a dedicated event in the city of Zurich. The Reno 10x Zoom, which has a 5x optical zoom (which magically becomes 6x with the company software), surpasses Huawei's already incredible record with a 60x digital zoom. On board, we find respectable hardware thanks to the presence of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip and 8GB of RAM.

A distinctive feature of the smartphone is the presence of a retractable "fin" that hides the selfie camera and LED flash. Also interesting is that the camera doesn't protrude, rather there is the so-called O-Dot, a small ceramic bump that protrudes from the body and protects the main camera from scratches.

AndroidPIT oppo reno 10x shark fin back
A one-of-a-kind solution. / © AndroidPIT

Honor View 20: it has it all

The Honor View 20 is a smartphone designed for the youngest, the digital natives. Characterized by a body made of glass and aluminum, the Honor View 20 sports an elegant look resulting in an ergonomic smartphone thanks to the curved edges and the diagonal of the 6.4-inch display that is virtually bezel-less.

The strong point of the smartphone, in addition to software that runs smoothly without problems, is the performance offered by the Kirin 980 and the 48MPmain camera equipped with AI. The SoC, supported 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of internal memory, makes it quick to switch between apps and multitasking. The selfie camera, hidden in a punch hole in the display, will not disappoint you. It's a complete and relatively inexpensive package not to be missed.

honor view 20 03
An alternative to the notch. / © AndroidPIT

Xiaomi Mi 9: best quality-price ratio

Xiaomi is renowned for offering top-of-the-range devices well below the prices offered by the competition. Xiaomi Mi 9 is currently the most interesting device of the manufacturer, and you'll find it online for around $479 (6GB RAM / 64GB storage model). A discounted price for an almost uncompromising flagship!

This Mi 9 is equipped with a 6.39-inch screen with 1,080 x 2,340 pixel resolution with a small drop-shaped notch. If the Mi 8 didn't convince you because of its design, things got better with this new model. In terms of performance, we find the Snapdragon 855 with 6GB of RAM and 64 / 128GB of internal storage. The triple camera includes a 48-megapixel main sensor, a telephoto lens and a wide-angle lens, all aided by the AI.

AndroidPIT xiaomi mi9 transparent
There is also a version with a transparent back! / © AndroidPIT

Realme 3 Pro: the cheapest of the lot

OPPO's Realme 3 Pro takes on the Redmi Note 7 for the title of best mid-range buy, and it's clear that it's aimed toward the mid-to-low end segment of the market. While the brand has been available in Europe for a short while, it has yet to make it to the US. You can get the device there for around 170 EUR (from June 5, 2019), which is equivalent to $190.

This Realme 3 Pro has excellent specifications for the price at which it is offered: a Snapdragon 710, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The 4,045 mAh battery guarantees excellent battery life and it recharges in a flash thanks to the support for VOOC 3.0 charging. The screen measures 6.3 inches and intruded by a tiny drop-shaped notch that certainly won't bother most users. With FullHD+ resolution it is also great for viewing multimedia content.

AndroidPIT realme 3 pro fron2
It packs a punch for the price. / © AndroidPIT

Have you imported a Chinese smartphone? Let us know what you think of it in the comments!

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Readers' favorite comments

  • Alex Jul 30, 2016

    First of all I didn't like the Title Chinese smart phones as they seemed a lot better than the so called High range Products and secondly people know all these phones why are you always repeating the articles in the site I know it's different people posting but all people see is an article so please make sure you don't repeat your articles.

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  • I imported a Redmi Note 7, it's a good phone with good cameras. I wish it had Android One but MiUI is okay. It was inexpensive for the Hardware it offers. Mine is 4GB RAM and 128 GB Storage. It's fast and smooth, camera take photos quickly with HDR and Night pictures available. On the whole It is an excellent buy.


  • You are still out of this site. Come on here it if offering you very important platform for the job seekers. Here is the solution of all job seekers. Come here to get your share. www.jobsthings.com


  • Well I stand corrected, because my favorite devices from China (ZTE / Honor) were purchased by looking at them at Best Buy / Fry's Electronics! When you take that out of the equation? Purchasing a no-contract device phone becomes "what is available in a shop" instead of "what is available on Amazon only".

    I can watch video reviews all day long, back to home a device up close in your hands? That truly seals the deal (and I guess that's why I have a Motorola G7 - no I'm not happy North America was denied the G7 Plus!)


  • Honor 7X (or it's Huawei equivalent) works for me (and I'm not a millennial (lol)👍


    • My phone company refused to support my phone and I was lied to about new phone! Yes I hate google! How do I get a phone like yours?
      I am not good with technology and I don't want to be tricked again!
      Can you provide any links to how to buy a this kind of non- google phone. Aka no google browser or google play required working the phone. Any succinct questions to ask phone company. Thank you for your help in this matter Sorin.


    • Keeping track of all these websites is difficult so you can post to me any way you can Sorin as I am not sure how this all works. This time checked to notify me in this matter. Thanks for helpful comments. No thanks I don't want to hear anything more related to keeping google!


  • Cubot X18 Plus as been my latest phone,bought off Gearbest,its a Super 6" screen with a 4000 battery,and the batterylife is amazing less than £100,Worth buying i promise you


  • ZTE Axon 7

    #nuffsaid


  • MI 6 is a great smartphone.


  • I'm surprised that Cubot phones are not mentioned ? They seem quite easily available in the UK. We have been using 3 Cubot phones in our business for over 3 years now and they just seem to work and keep on working . We changed due to frustration using the branded others just seemingly always falling down when you really need them most out on the road.


  • I have a mate 9, following on from my old note 4. Its been very good, love the flat screen, battery time is great, last all day and more. No issues with hd display, on normal day to day use i cannot tell the very slight difference to qhd. Having used one i would definitely consider the next model over a Samsung.


  • Chinese phones can sometimes be good or bad as Ebay is offering loads for sale, they All seem to use Stock Android, its the pricing of these phones that makes consumers give these phones a chance or buy these phones as back up phones, Cubot phones is the one i check up on, as they offer Dual sim cards, Removable Batteries and Micro Sd Card slots, they seem to be very affordable phones and with decent cameras and show improvement every year plus reliable phones, even you tube shows reviews of there phones and would recommend them to anyone


  • I guess you could always argue about the selection being made here, and yes several other phones are also worth mentioning (personally I really like my Vernee Apollo). However, the article focuses only on hardware but a phone consists of software too. Sometimes the chinese phones contain quirky software and special Android adaptations that are far from perfect. In my experience those who offer a stock Android version are the best. Also, stay away from phones that still use Android 5.1 or even 5.0.


  • All those details are very important and when companies today lunch a new device they show all of those qualities to the public; all the possibilities and technology the device is capable of and the chipset. Most of the major players like apple, Samsung and LG (and many others) manufacture their devices in the east Asia; Singapore, China, Korea, etc. this happens mostly because the manufacturing costs in this area are much lower and that with many years of experience the plants and workers there acquired knowledge that allows them to make better, smarter phones. Many of the Chinese phones in the market even surpass the known brands like the famous Apple. The Chinese brands are manufactures in the same plants as the oversea brands’ phones are. The branding issue brings us to an entirely different subject – marketing and publicity. I will publish a separate article about the subject later on.
    Today, thousands of people personally import cheap Chinese mobile phones using the large e-commerce sites available like aliexpress.com, Chinese-phone.com, ebay.com, amazon.com (and those are just the larger ones).
    If I gave you a chance to forget about the brands, and value the phones only by their quality and their component’s quality. How would you feel?
    I believe you would have used the same methods as I do – price vs performance.
    I presented before two Smartphone's to compare. One of them is a known brand’s phone and one is a Chinese company’s phone.


  • Well as per wholeseller of worldwide in mobile phone category i can say there is a phone from oukitel model u20 plus which has dominating price and best features dual camera and all check it out at shoptadka.com


  • I would include the ZTE Axon 7. Excellent build quality; 820 processor with 4Gb of ram and 64Gb of expandable storage; dual, front-facing speakers; non-intrusive software skin; excellent 5.5 inch display; solid battery; decent camera; and $400 price (got mine on sale for $350). Really solid device.


  • I had xiaomi mi 3 , very good stable phone, still can use it at this moment and it will work impressive . I had to give up on it because of 16 gb memory with no sd card ( the biggest minus) , the design , look like a brick , no 4 g ( but 4g developed afther that) and no fast charging , but like i said very.. Very good phone at his price 220 euro new with warranty in my country.
    I have replaced with a meizu pro 5 , and the cpu is not clocked at 2.5 , that is a erorr..cpu is a Octa-core (4x2.1 GHz Cortex-A57 & 4x1.5 GHz Cortex-A53) .
    I saw that in the Chinese top is mentioned meizu pro 6 at place 5 in the top. Well definitely pro 5 is above pro 6 , in almost any way (exynos vs mediatek, DAC vs no, 5.7 vs 5.2 , sd card vs no - very important )so i think pro 5 is neck to neck with
    one + 3, and we don't talk about benchmarks just day to day ussage. Of course one + have new chipset and will perform better in benchmark . And when you put the price 330 euro ( bought at a good discount) with 2 years warranty in my country with 550 ( one + 3 ) i think we know who is 1 st place , off course that is my opinion. I tested the xiaomi mi 3 and the pro 5 in different aps , the diffrence was insesisable , the pro 5 was an upgrade? Well yes , with all the features ..design, 4g, sd card, fast charging, DAC But in the end the price matters. Mi 3 good as his price at that time way above galaxy s 4 at half price, pro 5 same as the Samsung Galaxy note 5 with + and - on both sides at almost half price .
    That is the beauty of Chinese phones , high specs at low price.


  • LeEco Le 3 pro, Vernee Apollo ? Worth buying?


  • You are missing zuk z2 and Zuk z2 pro. Bad article, incomplete


  • Wakfu Oct 8, 2016 Link to comment

    I think chinese phones are the best. Look at this! They are amazing, gorgeous, performant,...the best!!!

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